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Goldfish Ich Problems

Updated: 9/18/13

Help for a Goldfish with Ich

This “Aquarium Answers” post is an edited and expanded reply to an email question I received about a Goldfish suffering from an ich infestation, this post is not intended to be an in depth article about freshwater ich. For a more in depth article, please visit this site: Aquarium Ich, Identification, Treatment, Lifecycle, Prevention


Hi Carl:

I hope you don't mind my writing to you. I saw on a board that you had answered some fish questions very intelligently and was desperately hoping you might be able to shed some light on my situation.

About a month ago, we bought a healthy goldfish for my 7 year old son. Within a week he came down with a severe case of ich. We treated with the salt treatment and he recovered after about a week. Almost immediately, his fins turned raggedy white and ripped-looking - then they turned black at the edges (he is a gold fantail). We treated this with Maracyn-2 but it did not get better, so we did another round. During this time the fish became listless and started just hanging at the bottom of the tank. After the end of the second antibiotic treatment, he stopped eating completely. Thinking that the antibiotic had not gotten to him because of the "old" carbon filter we had running, and he was still sick, we tried Maracyn Plus. We are at the end of that now and the fish has not eaten for about 5-6 days (but doesn't seem thinner) and just stays, not swimming, near the bottom of the tank. His fins are okay (not clamped) and while his eyes looked a little popped at different times, they do not now. He looks VERY unhappy and does not seem to be able to swim.

During all this time we have maintained the water cleanliness and quality - although he did go from very hard water to softer water and now has a combination of both. (Treated of course). We started to decrease the salt, but that was when he fell sicker, so we have just maintained it at about 1 1/2 teaspoons/gallon of water, not wanting to stress him from the change. We have tried two different kind of food, but he doesn't even appear to see when we put the food in. He is now in a ten-gallon, though during all the treatments, he was in a one gallon or a three gallon (again - water quality tests came out ok) He is at room temp - about 75 - this whole time.

Thank you so very much for your time. I feel like I have tried everything and don’t know what else to do!!!

Thank you


Goldfish with Ich

[1] First, you need to lower the salt level that may have helped initially, but to much salt will literally dehydrate your goldfish (I only recommend one tablespoon per 5 gallons). Goldfish absorb the water the need where saltwater fish drink the water constantly. When there is too much salt in with your goldfish, it stops this ability to absorb water and pulls the body fluids from your goldfish, which in the short term helps rid your fish of the ich.
Please see this article for more information about the osmotic processes in fish: “How do Fish Drink; Proper Osmotic Function in Fish”

[2] What are your filters? Sponge filters are good for small aquariums especially when combined with HOB filters.

[3] What are you feeding? I would recommend a Spirulina based flake at this time as it is easy to digest plus it helps with your fish immune system. Brine Shrimp is also easy to digest.

[4] I would recommend a methylene blue dip at double dose for 1/2 hour. To prepare this bath I use 1 teaspoon 2.303% solution per 5 gallons (double dose) in a bath of aquarium water from the tank the fish you wish to treat came from, I usually use about a ½ gallon of water, however you may use less. Measurement of the Methylene Blue does not need to be precise as this bath should be used for about 30 minutes. Make sure you keep the water in a warm area, as in a cold room the water temperature can drop rapidly which would stress the fish. Do NOT pour this water back into your display aquarium when finished. This can be performed twice per day.

[5] For goldfish a Malachite Green/ Formalin combination has generally been the most effective for moderate to severe infestations. Quick Cure is good product with this combination of medications (Malachite Green/ Formalin). While a somewhat newer product Sea Chem ParaGuard is slightly safer, albeit also slightly less strong formulation. Malachite Green by itself as in “Nox Ich” is also effective in moderate infestations. Other treatments of note are copper sulfate and Quinine Sulfate or Hydrochloride.

Ich Medications:
Quick Cure
Sea Chem ParaGuard

For mild to moderate infestations (even some severe) I also use Medicated Wonder Shells as these products have Malachite Green (lower levels safe for most delicate fish), acriflavin, and small amounts of methylene blue (not enough to affect bio filtration) and copper. What is best about these Medicated Wonder Shells is that they also add electrolytes, calcium and maintain a proper KH, which is very important for treatment with Malachite Green as this medication is more toxic at lower pH and KH (Best used at a pH of 7.2 or higher and a kH of 80 ppm or higher).

A resource for: Wonder Shells

[6] Pimafix would be a safe organic follow up treatment to your ich problem.
The Medicated Wonder Shells are useful for 10 gallon or larger for ich prevention and treatment, and help with secondary infection and electrolytes.

[7] Your KH and GH is very important to your goldfish' healing, goldfish do best a GH over 200 ppm and KH over 100 ppm. The GH is also an indicator of your Calcium level, which is essential for proper healing as well as osmotic balance. (Magnesium is important too, which can tested via a GH test)
Here is an information page with links to medications, KH, and more articles:

More Aquarium Information


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In Chronological order of writing with the newest at the top

  1. How to Treat Sick Fish
  2. Whirling Disease in Fish
  3. Reef Aquarium Chemistry Maintenance
  4. Use of RO, DI, Softwater in Aquariums
  5. Lighting Theory of a Planted Aquarium- RQE, PFY, PAS, & PUR
  6. Aquarium or Pond Bio Load
  7. Tuberculosis in Fish
  8. PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting
  9. Head Pressure in Aquarium and Pond Water Pumps
  10. Fin/Tail Rot For Betta & ALL Fish
  11. Angelfish Virus/Aids
  12. Activated Carbon
  13. Fish Baths/Dips as an aid to treatment
  14. Streptococcus gram positive bacterium in aquariums, Eye Infections
  15. Hydrogen Sulfide
    production in anaerobic De-Nitrification for Aquarium/Ponds
  16. Fish Shipping
  17. Aquarium Size, Fish Stunting
  18. Aquarium Algae,
    BBA & Brown Algae in particular
  19. Aquarium Salt (Sodium chloride) in Freshwater Aquariums
  20. Betta Habitat; Wild Bettas to Domestic Betta environment parameters
  21. HITH; Hole in the Head Disease
  22. Aquarium Protein Skimmers, Ozonizers
  23. Power Head/ Water Pump Review
  24. Molly Disease/ Mollies in an Aquarium
  25. Basic Fish Anatomy, Fin Identification
  26. Aquarium Moving/ Power Failures
  27. Octopus as Aquarium Pets
  28. Aquarium Nitrates
  29. Ichthyophonus protists, fungus in fish
  30. Aquarium and Pond Filter Media
    Types; Mechanical, Bio, Chemical
  31. Aquarium Water Conditioners (also Pond)
  32. Fish Parasites; Trematodes & Monogeneans; Annelids and Nematodes;
    Flukes, internal worms, Detritus Worms (often confused with Planaria), Micro Worms
  33. Aquarium Silicone Application;
    DIY Aquarium Repair & Glass thickness
  34. Pond Veggie Filters; DIY Bog Filter
  35. The difference between Plaster of Paris and Aquarium Products such a Wonder Shells:
    Identification, prevention & Treatment
  37. AQUARIUM TEST KITS; Use & Importance
  38. SEXING FISH; Basics
  39. Chocolate Chip, Knobby and Fromia Starfish
  40. Freshwater Velvet & Costia
  41. Usnic Acid as a Fish Remedy
  42. Aquarium Heaters; Types, information
  43. The Lateral Line in Fish, Lateral Line Disease
    or Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE)
  44. Tap Water use in Aquarium; Chloramines, Chlorine
  45. Can Black Ghost Knife fish give an electric shock?
  46. Bio Wheel Review; Do Bio-Wheels really work?
  47. How do Fish Drink?
    Use of RO Water
  48. Cyclops, and Predatory Damselfly larvae
  49. Betta with Dropsy;
    Treatment and Prevention of DROPSY in all fish
  50. pH and KH problems in African Cichlid Aquarium
  51. Aquarium Gravel, which size?
  52. Blue green algae, Cyanobacteria in Ponds/Aquariums

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